Whitney Kropp, 16, was picked for the Ogemaw Heights High School homecoming court as a joke. But the town of West Branch Mich., has rallied behind the teen -- and against the bullies. (WNEM)
By USA TODAY
TheDetroit News has a terrific story this morning about a rural town in Michigan that has rallied behind a "free-spirited" high school sophomore named Whitney Kropp who likes to wear black outfits and strange hair colors and has few friends in the rural community of West Branch.
The 16-year-old -- like most everyone else at Ogemaw Heights High School -- was shocked to hear over the loudspeaker recently that she had been voted onto the homecoming court, a coveted spot that normally goes only to the cool kids.
Turns out the voting was a part of an elaborate joke by some fellow students who thought it would be funny to choose Whitney -- the least popular girl in class -- as one of the most popular.
Everyone quickly got the joke -- including Whitney, who was humiliated, especially after a popular football jock picked as the other class representative dropped out of the event.
"I had actually reached a point where I had thought about suicide," Whitney tells WNEM-TV. "I thought I wasn't worthy at Ogemaw Heights at all."
After a good cry at home and some pep talk from her sister, mom and grandmother, Whitney decided she was going to the homecoming event Saturday to take her rightful place, the News says.
"Going to homecoming to show them that I'm not a joke," she wrote on Facebook. "Im a beautiful person and you shouldn't mess with me!"
Someone (of course!) posted a "Support Whitney Kropp" Facebook page on her behalf, and quickly got 3,500 "likes," which far exceeds the entire town population of 2,100. A former student of the school, a family friend, offered his support on YouTube, talking about his own bullying experience at the school.
Then the tiny farm town 140 miles northwest of Detroit took over: Businesses will buy her dinner, take her photo, fix her hair and nails and dress her in a gown, shoes and a tiara, the News reports.
It's a very touching front-page story by News reporter Francis X. Donnelly that is well worth a full read.
One especially nice note: Josh, the football player who dropped out, changed his mind and will take his place at the big event Saturday.